Unilever’s new startup program kicks off with eye on $ 3.4 million social commerce opportunity

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Dive brief:

  • Unilever has unveiled a new program that will partner with startups and “scaleups” – late-stage startups with proven growth – according to an ad. Submissions for the pitches are open until October 19, with a shortlist to be announced on November 3. A live virtual pitch competition will take place on November 18.
  • First Round of Presentations for Positive Beauty Growth Platform to Focus on Social Commerce, a Category Predicted by Grand View Research will be worth nearly $ 3.4 trillion by 2028. Unilever is specifically looking for companies specializing in Live Shopping, Buyable Media, Game Commerce and group purchases.
  • The winning entrants have the chance to test their concepts with the brands of the good packaged giant, including Dove and Ax. Unilever positions the initiative within the framework of a broader positive beauty strategy introduced earlier this year that seeks to make its products more fair and sustainable, while seeking to bring its beauty and personal care brands to the forefront of technology.

Dive overview:

Unilever clearly recognizes that technological needs are rapidly changing in products packaged with the Positive Beauty Growth platform. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce by consumers by several years, as social media and digital platforms are investing more in creating their shopping offerings to meet growing demand. With the new program, the marketer CPG seeks to stay on top of these category shifts by working with emerging companies ranging from early stage startups to more established and recognized companies in the industry.

Dove and Ax owner has other bets in the startup space, including Unilever Ventures, a venture capital arm that has backed companies like Instacart grocery delivery service, and The Unilever Foundry, who has piloted more than 400 startup projects. The Positive Beauty Growth Platform is a collaboration between The Unilever Foundry and the Beauty & Personal Care division of Unilever. In the announcement, Sunny Jain, president of Beauty & Personal Care, said it was imperative for Unilever to stay on top of the “mega-trends of the future”.

“Building a thriving two-way relationship with the global startup community helps drive innovation and experimentation, deliver business solutions, and fuel growth,” Jain said in a statement. “By harnessing the disruptive approach of startups, we will help sustain our brands by exploring new spaces shaping the beauty industry.”

Social commerce, which was slowly gaining momentum before the COVID-19 crisis, has seen an explosion of interest as platforms attempt to woo more dollars from brands moving their businesses online. TikTok, one of the big winners of the pandemic, has done “community trade – the link between its popular designer base and its purchasing power – a key element in its sales pitch to advertisers in recent months. Facebook and Instagram renew themselves in the same way aspects of the user experience to prioritize engine purchases.

Beauty and personal care are two categories poised to benefit from a closer marriage between influencer marketing, social content and commerce. The segment is expected to experience a 30% compound annual growth rate in social commerce by 2028, according to Grand View findings.

At the same time, Unilever is trying to reconcile its new start-up with targeted marketing through Positive Beauty. The strategy that began last spring is to diversify beauty ideals – one of its first moves was to ban the use of the word “normal” in beauty and personal care advertising and packaging. – and reduce Unilever’s environmental footprint.


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